Environment: Making it better wherever you are
Scottish Island of Self-Determination
If you’re a citizen of Scotland and you voted 'Yes' on last week’s referendum, you might be feeling a wee bit down. The thought of independence excited you, and now you think that the past three hundred years of being under British rule will never end. But don’t despair. Wherever you are in Scotland right now, head west to the Isle of Eigg where you will find a homegrown spirit of genuine Scottish self-determination.
Your fellow countrymen on the Isle of Eigg came out from under the yoke of an outsider’s ownership. They formed a community trust and bought their land back from a foreigner, an eccentric German artist. Your Scottish countrymen have turned their small island into the first community in the world to be totally self-sustaining and nearly free of fossil fuels. How’s that for showing the world what Scottish independence looks like?
For the rest of us, without a drop of Scottish blood, the story is nevertheless intriguing. The Isle of Eigg can serve as a model of a sustainable community that is thriving on its own merits.
The Atlantic’s online magazine, Citylab, showcased the story of Eigg in an article by Mark Byrnes on September 19, 2014. Here are a few highlights:
After being bought by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust in 1997 (a partnership between island residents, the Highland Council, and the Scottish Wildlife Trust), Eigg has seen not only an uptick in population (currently home to 83 people) but also the creation of its own electrical grid after depending on diesel generators for years. As locals tell Reuters photographer Paul Hackett, Eigg's new grid gets as much as 95 percent of its energy from a mix of wind, hydro, and solar power.
The grid was subject to referendum discussions in recent months, at the same time as Scotland at large debated its vote on independence from the U.K.: Campaigners for the 'No' vote claimed that Scottish independence would have meant higher prices for renewable energy since the cost would no longer be shared throughout Britain. Nationalists felt that having more control over Scotland's own resources would have meant an easier path to harnessing its own energy potential.
One Eigg resident, Ailidh Morrison, told Scotland's Sunday Post last month that she would be voting Yes, because "...if you look at Eigg as a microcosm of how you can come from nothing, having no infrastructure, no power, no homes, and in 17 years to almost double your population, have infrastructure, have your own independent power system, have houses for people to live in an have an economy that is thriving—not just existing or surviving but thriving—I think you can see what you can do if you give people freedom and responsibility."
Aljeerza posted more on this story, “Greenest Island in the World”.
Read more about the Isle of Eigg on their website.